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Fixture chaos looms as youthful Athy kill off their Old rivals with style

NOT many teams competing in the provincial club championships have a serious concern about the scheduling of their counties' underage championships, but it was certainly exercising the mind of Athy officials last evening after their 1-13 to 1-3 victory over Old Leighlin at St Conleth's Park.

For this is no ordinary team. Nine of their starters are U21, as are two of the substitutes that saw action.

Corner-back David Hyland is 17. Man of the match, Tony Gibbons was captain of this year's Kildare minors.

Athy are reaping the rewards of sound underage work that saw them win three successive county minor titles from 2008-2010, while all of last year's U21 championship-winning side are underage next year.

Needless to say, they are in contention for honours again this year, with a semi-final against Maynooth due to be played next weekend.

But Athy are desperate to have the game deferred, as their young players could do with a rest.

Whether they succeed or not, there is no doubt that what they have achieved to get to this juncture is incredible, particularly with All-Star Mick Foley unavailable for the Leinster championship having gone to Australia.

Not that they see it like that themselves. As habitual victors, they are completely comfortable in big games. They expect to win championships and treat setbacks as mild irritants, rather than crippling blows.

They took their time to get going yesterday but never looked flustered.

Little wonder team manager Mark Brophy who oversaw the 2008 minor success, cut a satisfied figure.

"A 10-point victory in any competition is very good, especially at this level so we're pleased enough with it" said manager Brophy afterwards.

"The lads are picking a little bit up every game. We'll have to pick up a lot more for the next day but the lads are looking forward to it."

Old Leighlin had David Dowling sent off for a second yellow card in the 59th minute -- both earned for tripping Athy players -- but Old Leighlin were a beaten docket by that stage.

Their only score of the second half came from a Seamus Kinsella goal in the 56th minute.


It gave them some hope, with the margin down to six points, but just as happened when Edenderry drew level in the previous round, Athy responded with a goal at the other end of the field inside 60 seconds.

This time it came from the penalty spot, after Ger Hickey handled the ball on the ground in the small parallelogram, and James Eaton made no mistake.

Allied with the fine point-scoring of Liam McGovern, Ross Bell and the outstanding pair of Gibbons and Kevin Feely, it was enough to secure a semi-final clash with Garrycastle on December 4.

"Garrycastle are very experienced" Brophy cautioned. "It'll be a tougher game altogether than today.

"They've five or six on the Westmeath panel I think. They're gonna be a tough opposition; the Dolans, (David) O'Shaughnessy in the middle of the field, so they're going to be a tough opposition for us.

"But we've two weeks to get ready and the lads are looking forward to it."